The Church stands with struggling families amidst poverty, unemployment, and opioid abuse in America, said Archbishop Thomas Wenski of Miami in a Labor Day message from the U.S. bishops.
“These challenging times can pull us toward despair and all the many dangers that come with it,” he said.
“Into this reality, the Church shares a word of hope,” he continued. “She seeks to replace desperation and isolation with human concern and true solidarity, reaffirming the trust in a good and gracious God who knows what we need before we ask him.”
Archbishop Wenski, who chairs the U.S. bishops’ committee on domestic justice and human development, issued the conference’s annual Labor Day statement for 2016. He focused the message on the present-day “twin crises,” problems affecting families and workers.
The two crises are related, he said: poverty and a lack of access to good jobs has harmed the dignity of workers and has stood as an obstacle to family life.
The archbishop pointed to problems of “stagnant wages, industry leaving towns and cities behind, and the sharp decline in the rate of private-sector organized labor” as well as increasing rates of child poverty.
“Middle and rural America” have been hit especially hard with “the departure of industry,” he noted, citing “substance abuse” and “an increase in the number of broken families” as results of this.
“The Rust Belt region now appears to have the highest concentration in the nation of drug-related deaths, including from overdoses of heroin and prescription drugs,” he continued.
Pope Francis is aware of these problems, Archbishop Wenski said, as the Pope noted them in his address to the U.S. Congress last September where he remarked that young people “seem disoriented and aimless, trapped in a hopeless maze of violence, abuse and despair.”
“Their problems are our problems. We cannot avoid them,” the Holy Father said. “We need to face them together, to talk about them and to seek effective solutions rather than getting bogged down in discussions.”
Christians must take these words to heart and practice true solidarity toward their neighbors, the archbishop said.